Claire came to India in January 2012 , when she was working for a consulting firm and fell in love with the vibrancy and color of India. Two years later she left with a dream , a fantastic business idea and two adopted dogs
She started conceiving the idea of starting the business while she was living in India and then worked on making it a reality after she moved back to Toronto. She opened her first pop up store in may 2015. ” I chose the name “Kalā” which has many interpretations involving “art”, and I felt it gave a nod to beautifully crafted products. Indian people may find it strange when they see it written over here without the accent, as of course “Kala” without the accent means “black, and I’m all about colour. I liked the pun in that!”
“My customers don’t necessarily recognize my products as “Indian” when they first arrive in the store or see them online. Some recognise the expert printing work in the linens, and make the connection to India through that. Some think they are French, as a lot of the prints are Provence inspired. I have some stunning garments from a fantastic Indian Designer, Payal Jaggi of Kinche in my store. She uses Kantha embroidery in her pieces, however her designs are not notably Indian. Payal has a distinctive design aesthetic that could be worn anywhere in the world. I like to carry products that are a blend of different cultures, but the most important facets to me are that they are colourful and handmade. “
Block and screen printed textiles are Claire’s favorite. ” I have become obsessed with textile production, the different printing techniques used and how the colours are made, often from natural ingredients. The labour intensity and accuracy of the printing work is so impressive. I started a collection of printing blocks to remind me of the detail and technique required. I’d love to learn how to do it myself someday.”
One of my favorite jackets of many favorites : “This relaxed fit, reversible Kantha jacket is a great addition for Fall. You can show your fun, artistic side one day, and tone it down the next. Doesn’t everyone dress for their mood?”
Do you wear Indian clothes often in Canada if yes which are your favorite brands or designers ?
Claire : “I have a some Kurtas and Salwaar Kameez which I either bought, or were gifted to me, in India. I have to say I haven’t worn them much here, but I do cherish them, and will wear them again I’m sure. I have one saree, a beautiful emerald green (I am originally from Ireland) with a magenta border. I’m just waiting to be invited to another Indian marriage so I can wear it again! I have a relaxed fit, jumpsuit and matching jacket which I bought from Soma in Udaipur that I wore all summer long. It’s a beautiful indigo-dyed cotton with a circle block print in white. It’s really comfortable and cotton is great for summer. I also have a reversible jacket and a couple of dresses from Soma which I wear a lot. I loved shopping at Anokhi, Kilol, Soma, Fab India and The Shop. I liked that I could buy pieces that were less traditional, but retained the printing workmanship.”
For all our readers
if there were three Indian items , clothes , accesories they should own – what would you recommend .
Claire : “A reasonably high quality pashmina – don’t break the bank but ensure it’s authentic. One that’s big enough to wrap around yourself three times. If they ever visit Toronto in the winter, they will need it! Reversible jackets, these are not something you see a lot of in North America, and if you do, they are much more about function than beauty. I have a couple from India that are absolutely stunning, and I like that I can change it up for different outfits or for whatever mood I’m in. I always get compliments on them. Lastly, a blockprinted or screenprinted quilt. The quilts made in India are stunning, and are so well made. You can decorate your bedroom with something that is beautiful and functional at the same time.”
( Celebrating Holi and St Patrick’s day with her dogs who she rescued for a week but ended up taking them with her to Toronto )
image credits : Claire at Kalahouseofcolour